November 17 2013

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New Paltz college campus discusses racial issues

NEW PALTZ – “Let’s talk about it,” a campus symposium to openly discuss matters of race, gender, and identity took place on the SUNY New Paltz campus Saturday.

The event was timely in light of recent racial postings and writings on campus.

Saturday’s five hour dialogue is an extension of a previous symposium in 2011 that was prompted by postings of racially offensive material that year. This year’s event was already in the planning process when the posting “Emmett Till deserved to die” was found on a dry-erase board in DuBois Hall.

Student Association President Manuel Tejdea explained that this symposium has a different format and included keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

The symposium touched on race, gender, sexuality, and identity, he said.

Freshmen Jonathan Arm and Nicole Simonelli were both surprised by the racial incidents at SUNY New Paltz.

“I think it’s crazy how this is supposed to be such an open and diverse campus and there are repeated multiple racial incidents,” Arm said. He hopes that having a dialogue will help to figure it out.

Simonelli came to New Paltz thinking that it would be more tolerant to races, and genders and that hasn’t happened.

“I’m hoping to see why people are acting this way and how we can fix it as a campus,” Simonelli said.

Arm noted that the dining hall appears segregated because people tend to sit with friends who look like them.

J Mase III is a poet and performer, who conducted one of the discussion groups. “How do I meaningfully create partnerships with people outside of my friends circle or typical identity group to create lasing partnerships,” Mase said is one of the questions he posed.

The SUNY New Paltz Student Association is in preliminary planning stages for another symposium in the spring semester.



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